Kennedy Wins Birmingham National Invite

BIRMINGHAM, AL (June 7, 2009)--From the sound of it, Greg Kennedy carries medieval weapons in his golf bag in case he needs to strike during a close match. But he can't bring himself to go for the kill against a friend.

It just worked out that way Sunday, when Kennedy stunned friend and fellow Georgia native Jeff Belk to win the three-day Country Club of Birmingham National Invitational by one stroke.

"If you're playing against somebody that you don't know then you can get into a competitive spirit of trying to beat the other guy," said Kennedy, who finished 10-under par for the tournament. "When it's a good friend of yours and you're usually pulling for him, it's kind of tough to pull out the swords and daggers and try to drive it into their heart."

Kennedy trailed Belk for the first 51 holes before making superb birdies on the 16th and 17th Sunday to take a one-shot lead. Kennedy missed an eagle on 16 by one foot.

The 40-year-old from Duluth, Ga., holed a four-foot bogey on the 18th to complete a one-under 69. He then watched his friend deal himself one final self-inflicted wound.

Belk rolled a 4-foot four-foot par putt to the left that would've forced a playoff. It was his second bogey in the final four holes and continued his trend of poor putting all day.

"You get a little relaxed out there sometimes playing with your buddy," said Belk, a 49-year old from Marietta, Ga., who shot 72 Sunday after opening with a 65 and 64.

Will Swift, a 2001 Auburn graduate who won the tournament in 1998, followed a 69 and 65 with a 71 on the final day to finish five strokes behind Kennedy for third place.

The threesome combined to shoot 19-under in Saturday's second round, highlighted by Kennedy's 62, but tougher pins held them to 2-over on Sunday.

"Everybody was playing, I wouldn't say real safe, but probably not as aggressive," Swift said.

Belk said he and Kennedy have known each other for more than a decade because they are now two of the top 15 amateurs from Georgia and also because they both played at the University of Georgia, albeit almost 10 years apart.

They played a practice round together for the tournament before not only playing together each round but riding in a cart together too.

Their playing time together might lessen, however, because Belk, a lifelong amateur, said he might try to qualify for the Champions Tour when he turns 50.

Kennedy, a seven-time U.S. Amateur participant who was making his first appearance in the invitational, doesn't look that far ahead. He talked about 36 holes of U.S. Open sectional qualifying today.

"In this game you're really trying to stay in the present, trying to hit every shot the best you can, go find it and hit it again and see where that takes you," said Kennedy, who shot 69-62-69.

In the senior division, Birmingham's Bill Moor shot a one-over 211 to finish one stroke ahead of Birmingham's Mike Greer, who trailed Moor by six strokes entering Sunday.

Moor, the new golf chairman at the country club, also just needed a bogey for his first win in the tournament. He played in the mid-amateur division for years but never won.

"I was trying to two-putt from six feet," Moor said of the final hole.

Final results of the Birmingham National Invitational, played June 5-7, 2009 at the Country Club of Birmingham (AL):

Mid-Amateur Division
Greg Kennedy, Duluth, Ga. - 69-62-69--200
Jeff Belk, Marietta, Ga. - 65-64-72--201
Will Swift, Hoover, Ala. - 69-65-71--205
Bobby Spiller, Birmingham, Ala. - 70-69-72--211
Seth Sargent, Birmingham, Ala. - 69-67-76--212
Steve Hudson, Birmingham, Ala. - 73-69-70--212
Terry Cook, Johnston, Iowa - 72-72-68--212
Talbert Griffin, Hoover, Ala. - 72-73-70--215
Michael Crews, Ocala, Fla. - 77-69-70--216
Tra Dykes, Columbus, Ga. - 72-72-72--216
Alan Coshatt, Birmingham, Ala. - 72-76-69--217
Vic Kyatt, Hoover, Ala. - 73-66-78--217
Walker Grant, Montgomery, Ala. - 71-69-78--218
Christian Raynor, Kennesaw, Ga. - 72-73-74--219
Del Wood, Birmingham, Ala. - 70-76-73--219
Doug Stiles, Athens, Ga. - 72-73-74--219
Billy Mitchell, Roswell, Ga. - 72-71-77--220
Earle Bidez, Birmingham, Ala. - 72-75-73--220
Kenny Wilson, Murfreesboro, Tenn. - 73-72-75--220
Claud Cooper, Birmingham, Ala. - 72-76-74--222
Mark Knecht, Paducah, Ky. - 73-73-76--222
Will McDonald, Birmingham, Ala. - 73-77-72--222
Hawkins Tatum, Birmingham, Ala. - 75-75-73--223
Robbie Cotten, Brewton, Ala. - 77-70-76--223
Charlie Whittington, Columbus, Ga. - 74-74-76--224
Robert Savarese, Lafayette Hill, Pa. - 72-71-81--224
Ben Dupont, Huntsville, Ala. - 76-72-77--225
John Pitt, Atlanta, Ga. - 76-72-77--225
Jon Berry, Pelham, Ala. - 74-74-77--225
Steve Lee, Florence, Ala. - 72-76-77--225
Tevis Upton, Douglasville, Ga. - 73-72-80--225
Lindsay Carrington, Charlotte, N.C. - 73-77-76--226
Michael Atkeison, Somerville, Tenn. - 75-75-76--226
Sterling Hale, Atlanta, Ga. - 77-77-72--226
Jeff Warren, Suwanee, Ga. - 76-77-74--227
Beckham Palmer, Tuscaloosa, Ala. - 77-74-77--228
John Fulkerson, Birmingham, Ala. - 80-74-74--228
Nic Balanis, Birmingham, Ala. - 73-76-80--229
Bart Middlebrooks, Columbus, Ga. - 85-74-72--231
David Malone, Birmingham, Ala. - 75-75-81--231
Jake Nick, Brookwood, Ala. - 73-75-83--231
John Beatty, Montgomery, Texas - 77-77-78--232
Clay Hightower, Houston, Texas - 80-78-76--234
Richard Sexton, Birmingham, Ala. - 75-81-82--238
Joseph Turner, Brewton, Ala. - 82-81-79--242
John Goldasich, Birmingham, Ala. - 82-77-84--243
David Mims, Chelsea, Ala. - 79-83-87--249
Steven Rumsey, Tuscaloosa, Ala. - 77-74-NC--NC

Senior Division
Bill Moor, Birmingham, Ala. - 71-66-74--211
Mike Greer, Birmingham, Ala. - 75-68-69--212
John Gibbs, Oneonta, Ala. - 68-69-77--214
Gayle Sanchez, Baton Rouge, La. - 72-72-72--216
Keith Holmes, Macon, Ga. - 73-72-71--216
Mark Miller, Birmingham, Ala. - 72-72-74--218
Brad Mosing, Lafayette, La. - 74-72-74--220
Doug Farr, Monroe, La. - 77-72-71--220
Sam Farlow, Birmingham, Ala. - 73-72-75--220
Alan Fadel, Toledo, Ohio - 75-78-68--221
Jud Grace, Jackson, Miss. - 77-73-73--223
Robert Shelton, Lafayette, La. - 73-76-74--223
Alex Moore, Winnetka, Ill. - 75-73-77--225
Don Blanton, Selma, Ala. - 75-72-78--225
Earle Drennen, Tuscaloosa, Ala. - 75-76-75--226
Bob Poellnitz, Tuscaloosa, Ala. - 71-74-82--227
Rusty Boyd, Birmingham, Ala. - 79-75-73--227
Ted Sartin, Birmingham, Ala. - 78-74-75--227
Al McAdams, Jasper, Ala. - 76-74-78--228
Buzz Coons, Birmingham, Ala. - 74-72-82--228
Ben Thibeaux, Lafayette, La. - 75-75-79--229
Julian Thomas, Birmingham, Ala. - 78-80-71--229
Billy Wood, Birmingham, Ala. - 77-78-78--233
Edward Patridge, Birmingham, Ala. - 77-76-80--233
Vance Fulkerson, Birmingham, Ala. - 79-75-79--233
Clarke Rheney, LaQuinta, Calif. - 77-76-84--237
Rick Clay, Birmingham, Ala. - 78-79-80--237
Ingram Tynes, Birmingham, Ala. - 79-78-82--239
Tab Hudson, Birmingham, Ala. - 81-80-79--240
Lyman Fulton, Johnson City, Tenn. - 82-78-82--242
Jackie Cummings, Tuscaloosa, Ala. - 80-81-89--250
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